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10.28.15: Why So Many People Think They're Cherokee & The Secret Lives of Wild Horses

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Cher, Chuck Norris, and Angelina Jolie all claim to be part Cherokee. Today, we’re asking why so many Americans believe they descend from the Cherokee people - among the most commercially popular Native American tribes. And, another indigenous population that once roamed the American plains…from the cave art of early humans to abandoned mustangs on a New Hampshire farm, explore the resilience, intelligence and fierce sociability of horses.

Listen to the full show. 

Why Do So Many Americans Claim to be Cherokee?

More Americans claim descent from at least one Cherokee ancestor than any other Native American group. Why? Gregory Smithers has been examining that very question and wrote about it for Slate. He’s associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of The Cherokee Diaspora.

Why Do So Many People Claim to be Cherokee?

The Tree Ringist

Conventional wisdom holds that counting tree rings reveals the age of a tree, but those rings hold so much more information. One Virginia scientist reads tree rings to learn about historical weather patterns and to put our current climate into a larger context. Lilia Fuquen brought us this story. 

You can listen to this story again at

The Secret Lives of Wild Horses

As humans moved from simply observing and sketching wild horses to domesticating them for work and sport, we lost a fundamental understanding of their behavior, argues Wendy Williams in her book The Horse: the Epic History of Our Noble Companions. She will be reading from the book at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord this Thursday, 10/29, at 7:00. 

The Secret Lives of Wild Horses


Before their were nature documentaries, before their were zoos and big top traveling circuses, there were species of animal that had never had an reason, never mind ability, to travel to North America. So for those unwitting pioneers, the new world was probably a pretty lonely place. Nate DiMeo is the host of the podcast The Memory Palace –he brings us the story of the first elephant to step foot in North America.

You can listen to this story again at

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